Monday, September 29, 2008

Photo Overload

Are you ready for this much cuteness? This weekend, Deb, Brandon and I loaded five children into their minivan and headed to the Dallas Arboretum. I love pumpkin patch pictures! Every year, Deb and I have taken our little cuties to the pumpkin patch, so we couldn't miss the chance this year too.

Look at how my little girl has grown...

Our first pumpkin patch adventure, right before her first birthday

Her second year, just before her second bday

But, here she is now--year 3, one month before her third birthday.....

Can you believe this sassy little thing is my Maggie? She was VERY proud of the hat and dress, especially with both Ella matching completely and H sporting the matching hat. Very cool to her.

Alright, so are you ready? Time for some serious photo overload!!

Melts my heart

I love this picture of H. She looks so pretty here!

Gorgeous Ella dressed like a little diva should be

Oh, so beautiful. Those eyes, the curls, the little nose. I just love this child so darn much!

My awesome, funny, and quirky godson B

Deb and H. Do they look alike? :)

Beck! Look how big the chunker has gotten to be! He's over 19 lbs, with his petite little twin weighing in at 14 lbs. What a chub!

Best friends Jenny and Debbie

Dragging H along to go with her to see the horses

Loving on Ella. They look like they could be sisters! Now you see why I have baby fever? Seriously tugs at my heart seeing pictures like this one.

Watch out boys, she might be gorgeous, but she's a whole lot of drama

Happy Beck. He is such a cool little dude

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Grey's Tonight

Thoughts?? Let's discuss. Honestly, I was fairly bored after the first hour.

It's time for bed, but I want to hear from you. What did you think of Grey's and my favorite from tonight, the Office?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

I must apologize. I've been a bad blogger as of late. I did my very quick post about our Allie Day with the promise of more of an update on the 5K and our Allie Day. Did I do it? No. I haven't blogged in a week. Checking my statcounter online, I see that you are still coming to visit and check in on me, but you just haven't seen anything new. So very sorry.

My fall work schedule is VERY hectic. In an attempt to focus and "be where I am" (recent advice about handling the work/home life balance), I have not been on the computer in the evenings. You see, I have a tendency to be a workaholic. If the computer is on for fun things like checking blogs or blogging, I can't help myself. I check emails. I follow up on topics or revise documents. I just.can' I've been trying not to answer emails when Maggie is dressing up with her princess outfits or take business calls during our morning drives to work. I'd much rather be singing her current favorite song, "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Am I always successful? Sadly, no. But, I am TRYING. I'm at least making a conscious effort.

Of course, that has meant that you, my kind supportive readers, have been neglected. I came to blog once or twice, but I didn't get further than an uncreative title to the post. It isn't like I haven't had things to blog about. Here are a few topics I could have chosen from:

  • The amazingly well executed and successful 5K. We are still tabulating our final numbers for revenue, but I can confidently tell you it was our most successful to date. By a landslide.

  • My emotional state for Allie Day. I did well, I promise. Thanks to some of the best family members I could possibly ask for and the kindest, most considerate group of friends on the planet. Even including a beautiful (and DELICIOUS) cake with the inscription of "We Love Allie" during our big party that night.

  • Maggie's very scary allergic reaction to fire ant bites that sent us to the ER Wednesday night. Swelling, hives, vomiting, wheezing. Our first ER visit and it was awful. You know how I said I held it together for Allie's anniversary? Yeah, well, I lost it Wednesday night going through that. Especially after she asked me, "I got sick like Allie?" Did your stomach drop reading that like mine did hearing those words come out of my baby? I knew it was coming at some point, but hearing those words really threw me for a loop.

  • Maggie's allergy testing. It didn't happen Thursday as anticipated because of her high doses of benadryl from the night before. You have to be off antihistamines for a week (complete hell in my home given that Maggie can't sleep without Zrytec--screams in her sleep). With the knowledge that she is now allergic to fire ants (and shellfish, and the allergist now believes she has asthma as well), we have been told we have to begin twice weekly allergy shots. We are definitely not looking forward to those! For now, we have a decent supply of Epi-pens everywhere Maggie loves--school, home, GaGa's house.

  • Heroes for Children. I think I could do blog post after blog post on HFC alone. Things are going SO well. Have you seen our new blog look? I love it!

  • My growing baby fever and Andrew's lack thereof. Would you believe it? I actually have baby fever. Yes, me. The same girl who told you all less than six months ago that I had no desire for another anytime soon. It all changed this summer after our lakehouse trip and the fever has been growing and growing ever since. Andrew on the other hand? Not so much. We're at an impass. It's one of the first times in our marriage that we haven't been on the same page about a big decision like this. Unfortunately for my baby fever, Andrew's feelings are currently winning and there is no baby in our horizon at this time. He knows my position, I know his. We'll see what happens.

  • A Brandy update. My sweet girl is looking so great! Her leg is healing well, and she is getting around the house better and better. She is still confined when we aren't home, but she is getting so much better.

  • My cooking disaster. Have you ever made homemade chocolate chip cookies and forgotten the sugar? Yep, I did. They were so gross! Maggie and I sure had fun making them though! Andrew is still chuckling over that one. He didn't marry a very domestic woman now did he?

So, you see, I've had things on my mind to share with you. I just haven't shared those things. Not because I didn't want to open up. More because I didn't want to open my laptop! I think I am going to close now since I've allowed the TV to be the babysitter during this blogging time, and have some playtime with Maggie (not in our backyard until the exterminator comes!!). I leave you with some recent pictures of my little, almost three year old diva...

Maggie started ballet, jazz, and tap! Lucky for me, the lessons are during the school day so I don't have to stress about nighttime classes.

Showing off her moves!

She loves to spin!

Baking with mom. We apparently remembered the butter. Just not the SUGAR.

Loving using the mixer

Daddy loving

Never missing a photo op

My girl is getting so big!

Anytime is dance time!

She's such a pretty girl

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Allie Day

It's Allie Day. We've had a major fundraising 5K this morning and we have a party to attend this evening. It's been a pretty good Allie day. I'm emotionally exhausted and simply unable to share more right now. I hope to have a post up tomorrow. I appreciate your well wishes

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What's up in our world

When I was a teacher, I made my leadership students keep a journal. Some days, I had a structured topic. I asked a question, read a poem, had them listen to a song, or watched a video clip to prompt their writing. But, what they loved the most, was the free topic of "What's Up in Your World?" letting them share whatever on their mind or recent things going on with them. Here's a little of what's up in our world...

Andrew--well, the man that is allergic to all things around him is continuing to have his twice weekly allergy shots. It's helping, I think. At least, he's still going so it must be doing something. His food allergies are unique in that his body processes them like a seasonal allergy. He is allergic to all raw vegetables, fruit, and nuts. He can't eat a tomato, but spaghetti is no issue. It's weird I tell you.

Things are pretty good with Andrew. He had to work through the night this weekend, which made for a really long Sunday for him. He went to work at 6:30pm Saturday night to take down all the servers and work on some issues and walked into our bedroom at 9:15am the next morning. Maggie and I made sure to be gone for the day, heading out on a girls day with Mom and Mom Mom to let Andrew rest. On Friday, he and our friend Mike went to "First Saturday." Picture a flea market for computer geeks happening at night under a random bridge in Dallas. Oh yeah, that's First Saturday. Mike and Andrew have been going for years as buyers. You never know what kind of deal you can find. For the last two months, Andrew has paid to have a space (which is literally a parking space) to sell some computer equipment. He stays until about 2am and then heads home after selling most of his stuff. I even profited for this month's sale, getting a little money for new clothes! I went once to First Saturday a few years ago. God willing, I will never have to go back!

Me--Work is life these days. I am working an average of 65 hours a week, on a good week. Last week was about that on a four day workweek, and this week won't be pretty at all. Luckily, I can do quite a bit after Maggie goes to bed. My mom is taking her tomorrow night while I go to make a presentation. That way, it isn't a night mom is away but a special date night for her with GaGa and Mom Mom. She LOVES when my mom picks her up!

Other than work? Hmmm.......let's see.....what is going on in my life? Gosh, not much.
Well, maybe a bit. We have our Posse annual BBQ at Jen's Saturday night and I can't WAIT! I haven't told Maggie yet because the idea of being around the babies, Katie, Lucy, AND her man Toots might just be more information than she can handle! I'm really forward to our get together to celebrate our friendship, drink to the success of our 5K (this weekend, hope you're going to be there!), and thank Allie for bringing us all together.

I recently picked up the Twilight series after the recommendation of Jen and Deb. I love to delve into a series of books or dedicate to reading one author at a time. In college, I read nothing but Toni Morrison until I felt I had read the majority of her works. Last year, it was Jodi Picoult, and I can tell you that this MONTH, it's Stephenie Myer with the Twilight books. I say this month because I read the first two of the series this past week and I'm already into book three. Yes, that is during my 65 hour work week! That should be a testament to how much I'm really enjoying this series. Something has to keep me busy until the next Harry Potter movie comes out (since the jerks pushed it from November to June or July and I'm so sad about it!!)

Maggie--oh, the diva. About a week or two ago, she came strutting into the living room naked. She ran her hands down her sides and said, "Look at my body!" Then she stroked her face and said, "Look at my face, I so pretty." Yep, I'm in trouble. She told me recently that she "really likes boys a lot" then preceeded to tell me the names of her FIVE, count them five, boyfriends. Luke, Larissa's son, competes for the number one slot with her man Toots (not his real name).

During our time away from the house on Sunday, we went to the mall with my mom and Mom Mom. We hit the Disney store to help the princess loving little girl make a decision on what costume she would like for Halloween. After I had to place her on the counter for the salesperson to scan her purchase, Cinderella fully dressed in her costume walked the entire mall! It's great when GaGa goes with us--she went home with the dress (bought by me) and the shoes, tiara, and "magic wand" (bought by my mom). One decked out little princess. Though the costume wasn't the cheapest, I have a feeling it is going to get plenty used. She has been alternating between Belle and Cinderella (Belle costume was from Izzy and is a size too big but don't tell Maggie that!) every night. She will do this for hours! Sunday night, she laid out all her costumes, including the ones from her dress up box, on the floor. She then went and got her princess dress up shoes from her closet and paired them up with the correct dress. Then, if she had the corresponding Barbie princess, she laid that on top of the outfit. She danced around and told us all about her costumes and the princesses she loves. This lasted for more than an hour--what entertainment!

Maggie's language is getting so developed! She is one smart little thing, and her verbal skills are definitely showing that off. Some of my favorite words she still says incorrectly are "lasterday" "goggie" and "Seesy Beesy," though she will say Sleeping Beauty if she is concentrating hard enough. My baby will be three soon and I can't believe it! She starts dance class at her school tomorrow and she is so excited.

Next week, we head to the allergist for allergy testing. She is getting a lot of sinus infections and has been struggling with allergy meds since she was an infant. When the pediatrician found out about her shellfish reaction, he decided it was time for us to go through the testing. We let her have a bite of my shrimp about a month ago to see if she really was allergic (had Andrew's epi-pen!). It was more than a year ago that she tried something, so we just weren't sure. She ate one bite of the BREADING, not the shrimp, and was covered in hives for more than 12 hours.

Brandy--that dog is in trouble right now! After spending two horrible weeks tortured with the cone on her head, she had her staples removed last week. We followed the doctor's instructions to keep the cone on for one more day to let the wound heal. We did and then took it off. So what happened? Damn dog knawed her leg raw! So, once again, she's a "buckethead." Andrew and I were so mad at her. She looks miserable that we forced the bucket back on her head, but it's her own darn fault.

Maggie likes to lean in, look into her cone, and yell, "Hi, buckethead!" We hate the cone. She has no spacial depth with the thing on. She runs into stuff, including our legs, and it hurts!

The good news is that her leg is healing really nicely. She is fairing a lot better this time then the last and it hasn't been unbearable. Andrew has been wonderful about walking her most of the time. With her leg the way it is, we decided we couldn't let her go to the groomer to get a haircut. But, oh, she needed it SO BAD! We bought dog clippers last week and decided we were going to do it ourselves. We're idiots. It took us more than an hour tonight to shave her and we're not done!! Now, she doesn't look too bad, but we need to go back and improve her undercoat. Let me tell you, it might have saved us $80 but phew, that was a lot of work! Maggie was alternating between climbing over me while I tried to restrain B or giving her "lobin" to calm the dog down.

Allie--of course, our world does and will always include our Allie. The four year anniversary of her death is this Saturday. She continues to help us do better and better with our 5K event, being held on Saturday. This year, we added online fundraising. It isn't a requirement to participate and never will be, but we decided to add it to allow individuals, teams, and families the opportunity to raise funds should they choose. Our original goal was $10,000 for online fundraising. When we hit $9,000 two weeks ago, we changed it to $15,000. As of five minutes ago, we're now up to $17,859 in online fundraising!! We are so excited. I love watching these numbers climb, thinking of the things I can do to help cancer families with this money. Thank you, Allie!!

I have always believed that Allie's presence is so strong. She speaks to me in ways of her own, reminding me she's around. So, this weekend after having spent time with Crys and Zack, Alexa's parents, and with her anniversary coming up, I had Allie heavy on my mind. So, it should be no suprise that to me that she once again reminded me of her presence on Sunday. At the restaurant during lunch, her song Wonder by Natalie Merchant came on. Faint though it was, I knew it right away and I stopped to listen. At the mall, about to leave, I went off to drive the car around so my grandmother wouldn't have to walk any further. We had just walked out of the Children's Place where a little girl, maybe four or five, was running and laughing by her mother. I thought of Allie. When I got quiet, I noticed that Wonder was playing on the mall sound system. Then, we headed to Target. What do you think was playing on the radio at Target? You guessed it--Wonder. That's my Allie.

Think I will leave you tonight with a little Wonder.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Princesses in Heaven

Yesterday, Maggie and I had the honor and pleasure to visit Crys and Baby Zack at their home. Crys is the inspiring, incredible, caring mother of Zack and Princess Alexa.

Crys is starting a foundation in Alexa's memory called the Princess Alexa Foundation which will provide a dress up closet and themed parties at the hospital (starting first at Children's Medical Center of Dallas where Alexa was treated) as well as build a park in Alexa's memory. I have been following Alexa's story for some time now, through an introduction from Jen Weintraub. I cried when Alexa died and have followed Crys' journey of grief since her passing. When she announced she was created the Princess Alexa Foundation, I moved myself from more than just a commenter on the blog, and reached out to help. I don't donate to other nonprofits due to my financial obligation to Heroes, but I can help in other ways. I know what it's like to set up a nonprofit in memory of my child. I know nonprofit and the steps you need ot take, beyond just the paperwork forthe IRS, to get established. The least I can do is share my wisdom.

As we were driving over, I began to feel more nervous about having brought Maggie with me to play with Zack. Here is my healthy, beautiful, princess-loving (almost three) two year old. Was that insensitive of me? I was stressing about it by the time we pulled up because I so desperately did not want to hurt or offend Crys by Maggie's presence. We were complete strangers, so I didn't know what her reaction would be.

I've never met a more kind, gracious or loving mother and woman. Crys opened the door with a huge smile to Maggie and ushered us right in. Within minutes, she was asking Maggie if she wanted to go upstairs to Princess Alexa's room and play with all the princess stuff. My first reaction was to say no because I thought that would be too hard on her to see Maggie playing with those items. So, hesitantly, I climbed the stairs, more than a little nervous. Everything Maggie tried to pull out, I would gently try to tell her no or try not to let her play with it. But, Crys was pulling it out further, putting crowns on Maggie's head, showing her more toys, and laughing as Maggie slowly made a huge mess of Alexa's gorgeous bedroom.

Crys and I moved to the business of discussing their foundation and my suggestions for improvement. I think the idea of what they are doing is really fantastic. What I knew from reading Alexa's website was that dress up and being a princess was something special to her. What I didn't fully realize was that for Alexa, it was more than just fun playtime or something she merely enjoyed doing. It was a WAY OF LIFE. It was the family's way to cope and find happiness during a dark time. And they want to share that hope and happiness with others.

Soon, her husband Zack joined us in the office upstairs. His first glance was to Alexa's room, and the little girl currently in destroy mode. The room looked like a tornado had gone through it! I felt an immediate lurch in my stomach because once again, I didn't want this to upset him. Instead, he loving looked down at Maggie and said, "well, that's how that room should be!" Gracious, I tell you.

The three of us sat and discussed our feelings of having lost a child to cancer. We discussed our children's legacies, the nonprofits that serve those legacies, and how we move FORWARD (never move on, remember that, you can't move ON from your child that passes) as best as we can. Zack told me it was refreshing to talk to another parent of a child that died of cancer. Mentally, I did a quick thank you to Larissa who has provided me with that support since three weeks after Allie's death. We talked about the injustice of losing a child, the grief that surrounds you all the time, and the different ways we cope. They go to Alexa's gravesite every Sunday; I haven't been back to Allie's in more than three and a half years due to severe nightmares. All of us agreed that we feel our daughters' presence more in our home than anywhere else. We talked about how no matter the time of the child's passing, it's unfair. I only dealt with five short months of the hell of being a cancer parent before losing her. They went through more than two years, being told that Alexa was going to die after only six months of her treatment. They had more than eighteen months where the cancer remained at bay with some maintenance chemo only. How strange that I felt oddly jealous of this. They had a gift--eighteen more months with Alexa then they expected. Oh, what I wouldn't have given for eighteen months. But, then, they still suffered and continue to suffer in their grief from the loss of their princess. Both ways, we lost something so great to us. And both ways suck frankly. We all nodded in agreement on this point for sure.

We only cried once. I was telling them about the book The Angel with the Golden Glow. I love this book. I love that it creates a connection between my two daughters, each having been an angel that knew and loved each other before coming to their family. We teared up thinking of both our girls we no longer have here in our arms and their wonderful sweet siblings that will forever be without their sisters.

I stayed longer than I anticipated, but just couldn't stop visiting with this amazing family. Their love for each other and their children came across in everything they did. Their respect and commitment to each other after all they have endured is a true testament to marriage. And their princess? Quite possibly one of the most beautiful angels out there. Of course, that is, alongside my own angel.

Maggie was very interested in the fact that Baby Zack had a sister in "Heaben" too. She knows that Luke has a sister with "kemia" and she of course knows about Allie. She asked lots of questions about Alexa when we were there in the room, and was completely captured by all the princess stuff everywhere. As we were leaving, Maggie told me, "Alexa a princess." Yes, baby, she is. "She a princess in Heaben?" Yes, I think she is. "Yeah, a princess in Heaben like my baby sister Allie. TWO PRINCESSES Mama!!" Yes, baby, two princesses.

Two of the most beautiful princesses ever.

Crys--thank you so much for opening your home to me and Maggie. I look forward to working with the Princess Alexa Foundation soon!

If you would like to know how you can help the Princess Alexa Foundation, visit Crys' blog entry here and scroll down to the update on the foundation. The website will be up soon.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Visiting Cook Children's yesterday

Always warms my heart to see a giraffe.

Monday, September 1, 2008

4th Annual 5K Run/Walk

Just a little plug tonight for my favorite charity...

The 4th Annual Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk is in less than two weeks. Mark your calendar and join us there (for those of you that are local).

When: Saturday, September 13th

Where: Shops at Legacy, Plano

Time: Registration opens at 6:30am. 1 Mile Fun Run at 7:45 and 5K at 8:15am

Features: bounce houses, face painting, roaming performers such as clowns, magicians, and oh yes, Amy, the big Molar Men characters (my favorite last year was Ginger Vitis), Sweet & Sassy hot pink limo with fun glitter spray for hair, ambulance and fire truck for the kids to explore, Arby's, and MUCH MORE

Live Concert from Eddie Coker at 9:30am (yes, you do need to be registered for the event)

Mayor Pat Evans will declare the day Childhood Cancer Awareness Day in Plano, and our Grand Marshal, cancer patient Carson Richardson will lead both races in the pace car.

Hope to see you and your family there. For details on the event and registration, please visit